Graton Resorts and Casino is willing to cement its dominance as the biggest gaming destination in the Bay Area in the face of Sonoma County’s competing new casino proposal, so it is now proposing a significant expansion of its gaming floor and an establishment of a second hotel tower.
The Federal Indians of Graton Rancheria, which currently own and operate the Graton Resorts and Casino, announced a project seeking to expand the venue’s casino floor by 50% and add a 221-room, 5-story hotel tower. According to experts, the expansion would help the casino solidify its position as the leading gambling destination in Northern California and provide the Native American tribe that runs it with the chance to become an even larger player in the $8-billion annual tribal gaming industry and the local hospitality market.
The $825-million casino has been operated on 254-acre reservation land since 2013. Its gambling floor features 144 blackjack, baccarat and poker tables, 3,000 slot machines, as well as a number of restaurants. The resort’s 200-room hotel tower, ballroom and convention space started operation three years later, in 2016.
Graton Resort and Casino is currently one of the largest private employers in Sonoma County, with more than 2,000 people working there nowadays. The expansion is expected to boost the venue’s workforce even more.
Graton Resorts and Casino Expansion Unveiled at Difficult Time for the Local Gambling Sector
The Federal Indians of Graton Rancheria have made the announcement of the casino expansion project at a time when another Pomo tribe – the Koi Nation – is seeking permission to establish a gambling resort outside Windsor. The move has been opposed by five tribes in Sonoma County, including Graton Rancheria.
So far, Graton Rancheria’s casino officials and representatives refused to comment on the aforementioned casino expansion.
In 2017, casino managers and tribal officials unveiled plans to double the casino resort’s hotel capacity. At the time, a massive environmental study was held to examine the potential impact such an expansion would have on local resources and traffic, as some local residents had shared such concerns. The newly-announced casino expansion project is larger in scope.
As mentioned above, the latest plans unveiled by the owner and operator of the Graton Resorts and Casino seek to expand the gaming space at the front of the already existing facility – an addition that was not unveiled as part of the previous proposal and would result in boosting the casino’s footprint by 144,000 square feet. The establishment of a rooftop restaurant has also been unveiled as part of the project. An expansion of the hotel wing is also planned.
The project, however, has been unveiled at a time when the local gambling industry is facing some uncertainty. The lengthy closures that were enforced as part of the social distancing measures associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and stricter health protocols hurt casino profits at a time when the local gambling industry already experienced some difficulties. Reportedly, the sector has been facing some significant demographic changes since before the coronavirus pandemic, as the visitors of local casinos would typically include fewer young people.